A youth forum set up to give child patients at Blackpool Victoria the chance to have their say about the local NHS is celebrating its first year.
Members of Victoria’s Voice are invited to interview new doctors and consultants, and are present at new employees’ inductions to make sure care of children and young people in hospital is always on their mind.
Fiona Jones, who runs the forum, said: “The whole point was to give an opportunity to our younger patients to have a say in decisions made around the hospital. It can be quite difficult for young people to get their opinions heard, especially when it comes to health care and speaking up during a consultation. This is where we are helping.
“They get a chance to ask their own questions during staff interviews for nurses, consultants and physicians, and the feedback we’ve had has been very positive – our young people can be quite probing.
“We started off a year ago with five members and that’s tripled. We have a real mix of young people, all of whom have been in the hospital as patients at one time – some in the Emergency Department and some with long term conditions.”
Some of The Vic’s newest staff got to meet members of Victoria’s Voice at the hospital’s latest induction day.
Morgan Leather, 11, from Montgomery School is a member of Victoria’s Voice, having heard about it while undergoing treatment for a rash on her face.
She said: “I didn’t like being in hospital as although there were some good doctors and nurses I didn’t like doctors talking to my mum and not me. I didn’t understand what was happening to me and I wanted to change that.
“It’s good for the doctors to meet us like this because we think it’s a good opportunity to meet us as people not just as patients. It reminds them how important it is to listen to children and young people. They can hear about the projects that we do and gives us chance to get to know the doctors that are working for other children and young people.”
Morgan wants to be a nurse when she’s older.
Harry Clueit, 16, from Baines School, is also considering a future in health care.
He said: “I like to see what’s going down in the hospital and change the way things happen in the hospital to help young people receive better care.
“We turned our experiences into ways we can make being in hospital better. We created a list of things that children and young people should expect to experience while in hospital. This includes things like communication and being involved. We will be able to check up and see if the hospital is doing all of the things that it promised.”
The hospital’s newest member of staff to meet the forum is Dr June Tan.
She said: “As individuals I think some children feel shy or don’t want to ask questions or make comments. This group gives them chance to have their say in a more comfortable environment with their peers. The more feedback we can encourage the better care we can provide in the future.”
Victoria’s Voice is for children aged 11 to 16, and meets once a month.